Thursday, September 23, 2021

Mobilize the Working Class to Support the Striking Washington State Carpenters! - World Socialist Web Site

Mobilize the working class to support the striking Washington state carpenters! - World Socialist Web Site

 

 

The nearly week-long strike by thousands of carpenters in Washington state, centered in the Seattle metro area, has reached a critical juncture. Outraged by the deliberate sabotage of the strike by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters union (UBC), which has kept most carpenters on the job since the walkout began on September 16, rank-and-file workers are seeking to expand the strike to win their demands for pay raises and a reversal of decades of UBC-backed concessions.

After seeing their livelihoods eroded by rising housing and other living expenses and working during a pandemic that has taken a deadly toll on construction workers, carpenters are taking a stand for all building trades workers and the entire working class. But decades of bitter experience and defeated strikes, beginning with the AFL-CIO’s betrayal of the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike 40 years ago, proves that militancy and solidarity alone is not enough to defeat the enemies arrayed against the working class.

To take forward this struggle carpenters need the clearest picture of the political forces they confront, new fighting organizations democratically controlled by the rank-and-file, and a strategy to mobilize the broadest sections of the working class to support their fight.

Striking Seattle carpenters (Source: The Peter J. McGuire Group)

Carpenters know they are fighting the Associated General Contractors of Washington (AGC), which is made up of some of the largest and most profitable construction firms in the US, including Turner, Kiewit and Skanska. Along with the AGC are Amazon, Microsoft and other corporations that want their projects completed as quickly and cheaply as possible. Bezos, Gates and other billionaires, who have seen their fortunes rise while nearly 700,000 people have died, fear nothing more than a revolt by the working class against social inequality and the grotesque concentration of wealth.

Behind these corporate giants stand Governor Jay Inslee and both corporate-controlled parties, which have handed trillions in tax cuts and bailouts to big business while cutting unemployment benefits to jobless workers. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council are not “neutral,” much less supportive of the striking carpenters. They fear the revolt of the carpenters will encourage other sections of the working class to fight, and that is why union leaders are in meetings right now trying to figure out how to crush the strike.

This nexus of the collaboration between big business, the Democrats and Republicans, and the union executives can be seen most clearly in the Project Labor Agreements (PLA), which have been used to destroy the achievements won by construction workers over generations of struggle.

While forced to sanction the walkout, UBC officials never wanted a strike and are actively working to sabotage and defeat it. Pacific Northwest Carpenters Union Executive-Treasurer Evelyn Shapiro and the national leadership are forcing 10,000 of the 12,000 area carpenters to stay on the job under the no-strike agreements contained in the PLAs and are limiting strikers to ineffective picketing of empty job sites.

UBC and Kings County Labor Council officials have launched a vicious red-baiting campaign against rank-and-file workers and the social media platforms, including The Peter J. McGuire Group, to organize opposition. UBC officials have threatened militant workers with expulsion from the union, the loss of their jobs and legal and financial retribution for “unauthorized” picketing and exercising their rights to free speech.

There is only one description for these bureaucrats: they are scabs and company stooges.

Workers do not need “permission” from Shapiro (salary $259,038), General President Douglas McCarron (2020 salary $519,000) and other UBC executives to fight for their jobs and livelihoods. Like their counterparts in the other building trades unions, they have spent decades selling out workers. Their chief obsession is “market share,” by which they mean securing the continued flow of dues income and pension contributions into their bank accounts and investment vehicles. To secure this, they must repeatedly prove to the powers-that-be that they can keep workers in a state of industrial servitude.

The revolt of the carpenters is part of a growing wave of struggles in the US and internationally, which is taking the form of a direct struggle against the pro-company unions. This started with the wave of wildcat strikes by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona in 2018 and the revolt of the maquiladora workers in Matamoros, Mexico in 2019. In the last year alone, Warrior Met Coal miners in Alabama voted down a United Mine Workers-backed contract 1,006 to 45; Volvo Trucks workers in Virginia voted down three United Auto Workers-backed contracts; Frito-Lay and Nabisco workers have rejected pro-company agreements pushed by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM); and Dana auto parts workers voted down a deal by the United Auto Workers by 90 percent.

To the extent, however, that workers have not been able to organize independently of the corporatist unions and expand their struggles, in each case the union bureaucrats were able to regain control, isolate and wear down workers and impose the dictates of the employers.

The phrase “We are the union” is often used to encourage the illusion that workers can take the unions back from the bureaucrats and reform them. But the unions as organizations were long ago transformed into tools of corporate management and the government. The source of this was not only the corruption and cowardice of the leaders but the very nature of the pro-capitalist and nationalist unions. Incapable of responding in any progressive way to the globalization of capitalist production, the continued existence of these organizations depended on them becoming the enforcers of the ever-greater exploitation of the working class to “compete” internationally.

Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative and publications like Labor Notes claim the unions can be forced to fight if workers exert enough pressure on them. But bitter experience has shown the more workers fight for what they need, the more the unions and politicians crack down to defend the corporate and financial elite. Every attempt to reform the trade unions, from the Teamsters for a Democratic Union to New Directions in the UAW, has ended in failure for the working class, with the various “union reformers” incorporated into the labor bureaucracy.

New organizations of struggle, independent of the corporatist unions and the two big business parties are needed. Rank-and-file committees will share information, ensure democratic discussion outside of the control of the union bureaucracy, and coordinate common action.

Time cannot be wasted through fruitless appeals to the corrupt leaders of other unions, much less Inslee and the Seattle City Council, who all defend the profit interests of the corporations, businesses and investors. Instead, carpenters should organize demonstrations, rallies and mass meetings to appeal to the working class throughout the area to win their struggle. This means mobilizing teachers fighting the criminal reopening of the schools, overworked health care workers in inundated hospitals, and the millions of other workers who want to fight poverty wages and grueling work conditions. The powerful traditions of the 1919 Seattle General Strike should be revived and common action prepared to defend the carpenters against any threats of state intervention.

The World Socialist Web Site, which assisted workers in forming independent rank-and-file committees at Volvo Trucks, Dana and other workplaces is prepared to assist carpenters to form their own committees to unite workers across all trades and geographic regions, develop genuine workers democracy, and carry out an offensive to demand what workers need, not what the companies and unions deem acceptable.

We urge workers who want to share their voices and get involved with this fight to contact us at comments@wsws.org .

 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Stop the Deportation of Haitian refugees! -- World Socialist Website

 

 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/09/22/pers-s22.html?pk_campaign=newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

Scenes of border agents on horseback charging and whipping defenseless immigrants on the US southern border have provoked shock and revulsion across and America and around the world.

Even the White House was compelled to feign moral qualms, with Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday describing videos of these naked acts of cruelty as “horrible” and “devastating.” In other words, it would have been best had these images of horsemen in cowboy hats knocking migrants into the river or grabbing them by their shirt collars, invoking the memory of the Ku Klux Klan or Russian Cossacks, never been made public.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

But the Border Patrol’s mounted Cossacks were deployed to the river crossing in Del Rio, Texas for a reason. There is no “humane” method for imprisoning nearly 15,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, in a makeshift concentration camp under a bridge, in boiling heat and without access to shelter, food, water or toilets. The migrants who were charged and toppled by the US agents were carrying food and water for their families that they were able to obtain only by making a perilous trip across the river to Mexico to purchase it and wade back again.

Nor is there some “merciful” means of herding these same migrants onto airplanes in order to dump them in Haiti, a country that most of them fled over a decade ago in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, seeking jobs and new lives in Brazil, Chile and other countries that have since been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. In the meantime, the crisis in Haiti has only grown ever more dire.

Those enforcing these policies on the ground in Texas saw no reason to adopt the morally troubled tone of the White House press secretary. Biden’s appointee as chief of the Border Patrol, Raul Ortiz, told reporters that the entire episode was merely a demonstration of the challenges of “operating in a river marine environment on horseback.”

Whether the fascistic border agents on horseback enjoy whipping Haitians like animals or not, in the end, they are “only following orders.” Their brutality, like the unspeakable squalor in which the migrants have been held under the bridge linking the US and Mexico, is designed to terrorize and intimidate anyone thinking of seeking asylum in the US, a right guaranteed by both US and international law.

Even as the scenes of brutality were playing out on America’s southern border, US President Joe Biden was at the United Nations intoning before the opening session of the General Assembly: “… the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and a people: freedom, equality, opportunity, and a belief in the universal rights of all people.”

What hypocrisy! The “values” of US imperialism and its ruling oligarchy have been on full display in Del Rio, Texas, where those seeking freedom, equality and opportunity were trampled under horses’ hooves. As for any “belief in the universal rights of all people,” this a myth meant for export only. Similar scenes playing out in any one of a number of countries perceived as obstacles to Washington’s geostrategic interests would have provoked savage denunciations, if not demands for “humanitarian intervention.”

The Biden administration is utilizing the very same legal pretext for carrying out mass deportations that was introduced by Trump: Title 42, a World War II-era health ordinance allowing the temporary barring of immigration from countries where the spread of communicable diseases poses a threat to public health. This provision was turned into universal means of turning back all immigrants and refugees, introducing summary deportations and denial of the right to asylum.

Health experts have stated that its use provides no public health benefit in combating the spread of COVID-19, particularly given that the US is the epicenter of the pandemic. The deportation of thousands of people potentially infected with the virus, however, can prove catastrophic for Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with just 126 intensive care unit beds, 68 ventilators and 25 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants, one tenth the number in the US.

On September 16, a federal judge ruled that the government can no longer use Title 42 to expel families, though it can still do so to deport single adults. The judge’s order, which the Biden administration is appealing, does not go into effect for two weeks following September 16, however, providing a window of opportunity for the mass deportation of the thousands of refugees trapped in Del Rio, Texas.

Immigration authorities have vowed to mount as many as seven deportation flights a day to Haiti, four to the capital Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haïtien, the largest city in the north of the country.

Dumping some 1,000 immigrants a day in Haiti, most of them with nothing but the clothes on their backs and who haven’t set foot in the country in more than a decade, is an act of abject criminality. The first of these flights to arrive in Haiti on Monday carried 45 children, none of them born in Haiti and therefore not even citizens of the country. Among the deportees were women carrying babies in their arms.

These barbaric deportations are in line with earlier ones carried out under Biden of Central Americans flown to and dumped in southern Mexico. In both cases, those seeking asylum in the US were trying to escape inhumane conditions created by a century of imperialist oppression, US invasions and Washington-backed dictatorships.

Nowhere is this truer than in Haiti, which was subjected beginning in 1915 to a 20-year occupation and brutal counter-insurgency war by the US Marines. This was followed by the domination of a US-organized army and then, beginning in 1957, a three-decade-long dictatorship by the Duvaliers, embraced by Washington as a bulwark against communism, under which tens of thousands of Haitians were murdered and tortured by the military and the dreaded Tontons Macoute secret police.

Since the toppling of the dictatorship, US imperialism has sought in vain to create a stable puppet regime in Port-au-Prince capable of defending US interests. To that end, it backed two bloody coups and sent US troops back into Haiti twice over the course of two decades.

Biden has continued this policy, providing support against the revolt of the Haitian masses for the corrupt and dictatorial regime of President Jovenel Moïse – assassinated in July – and now for that of President Ariel Henry.

To send thousands of refugees back to Haiti, where there are no jobs or basic resources, armed gangs control the streets, a criminal regime is barely holding onto power and the masses are stalked by both hunger and COVID-19 is a crime against humanity.

Biden’s vicious persecution of the Haitians on the US-Mexican border underscores the fact that there is no faction within the US ruling class and its two major parties that is prepared to observe even the most elementary democratic and legal rights of migrants and refugees, or for that matter, of anyone.

The assault on migrants is a global question. Since the 2015 surge of refugees into Europe, the European imperialist powers have sealed their borders with concertina wire under a “Fortress Europe” policy, while pushing migrants to their deaths by the thousands every year in the Mediterranean Sea and interning many thousands more in camps where they are assaulted and threatened with fascist attacks.

Everywhere, the capitalist ruling class attempts to scapegoat immigrants for the insoluble crisis of the capitalist system, characterized by ever greater levels of social inequality and the normalization of mass death during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The courageous migrants from Haiti, Central America and elsewhere who have overcome daunting odds to make their way to the US southern border are part of a growing movement of the international working class which refuses to accept the unlivable conditions imposed by the profit system.

These immigrants deserve not only the sympathy, but the active support of every class conscious worker. The brutal methods being employed against them will be increasingly utilized against the working class as a whole as it enters into mass struggles.

The Socialist Equality Party demands an immediate end to deportations and the release of detained migrants. The agencies carrying out this repression, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), must be abolished, and the right of workers the world over to live and work in the country of their choice made inviolable.

This defense of immigrants must be joined with a multi-trillion-dollar program to rebuild Haiti, Central America and other countries ravaged by US imperialism, paid for through expropriating the wealth of US billionaires.

These demands can be realized only through an implacable struggle against every attempt to divide native-born and immigrant workers and by uniting across national borders with the working class internationally in a common fight to put an end to capitalism and the outmoded nation-state system.

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The UN General Assembly and the Threat of Imperialist Aggression against China - World Socialist Web Site

The UN General Assembly and the threat of imperialist aggression against China - World Socialist Web Site

 

The UN General Assembly is opening today in New York City under the shadow of the sudden announcement last week of the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance targeting China.

Members of South Korean K-pop band BTS watch a music video on the General Assembly Hall monitors during a meeting on Sustainable Development Goals at the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (John Angelillo/Pool Photo via AP)

Three-quarters of a century ago, the UN was founded on the claim that, after two catastrophic world wars, the victorious Allied powers would outlaw aggressive war. Article 1 of its Charter pledged “effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” It affirmed on December 11, 1946, the finding of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, that “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression” are crimes punishable by death.

The founding of the UN and the post-World War II settlement in fact resolved none of the essential contradictions that had led to the world wars—above all, that between world economy and the nation-state system, dominated by a handful of ruthless imperialist states. The UN went on to approve countless imperialist atrocities, from the carpet-bombing of North Korean cities in the 1950–1953 Korean war, to the wars NATO launched in Libya in 2011.

As the capitalist and Stalinist regimes of the postwar era hailed the UN as a guarantor of world peace, only the Trotskyist movement warned that opposition to war and the attack on democratic rights was impossible under capitalism and was the task of a revolutionary movement for socialism in the working class.

The Fourth International in 1945 branded the UN a “new thieves’ kitchen,” echoing Lenin’s condemnation of the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations formed after World War I, that failed to halt Europe’s descent into fascism and the eruption of World War II. Citing verbatim Lenin’s warnings to workers about the League of Nations, it called the UN “a group of beasts of prey, who only fight one another,” and “fakery from beginning to end.”

These lines aptly describe the debased proceedings getting underway in New York. The public will not be spared the usual humanitarian rhetoric, of course. In his report, unveiled on September 10, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appeals for world unity. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, with at least 4.7 million confirmed deaths, he laments official “paralysis” on the pandemic and global warming, the rise of “unchecked inequality,” and “the incalculable social and environmental damage that may be caused by the pursuit of profit.”

None of the major imperialist powers make any pretense, however, that they do not use murder and aggressive war as routine tools of statecraft. Indeed, the divisions between the imperialist powers, including among the former Allied victors in World War II, have never been greater. The presidents of three of the five UN Security Council powers—Emmanuel Macron of France, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China—are absent, as the US war drive against China provokes one of the deepest diplomatic crises since the end of the Cold War.

The AUKUS alliance, prepared for months behind the backs of the EU, led Australia to suddenly cancel a €56 billion order for French diesel-electric submarines and instead buy US nuclear subs, able to patrol for long periods off China’s coastline. Beijing denounced the agreement as “extremely irresponsible,” as it “seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”

Yesterday evening, European Union (EU) Commission President Ursula von der Leyen officially joined Paris in demanding formal explanations from Washington. “One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable,” von der Leyen told CNN. “We want to know what happened and why.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who will represent France at the General Assembly in Macron’s absence, warned: “We see the rise of an Indo-Pacific strategy launched by the United States that is militarily confrontational. That is not our position … We don’t believe in the logic of systematic military confrontation, even if sometimes we must use military means.”

Engaging in “systematic military confrontation,” in plain language, means preparing for war. The conflicts over profits and strategic influence now erupting among the NATO powers are driven by the imminent prospect of a global US war with China—abetted by Britain and Australia—waged in a bid to maintain US imperialism’s world primacy in flagrant violation of international law.

Thirty years after the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, which bourgeois propagandists hailed as opening an era of world peace, the major powers are again tobogganing eyes closed towards catastrophe. Their war preparations against each other testify to the impossibility of fashioning any coherent international policy to address critical world problems like the pandemic or global warming within the framework of the capitalist nation-state system.

Mobilizing and coordinating humanity’s resources to resolve any of the great problems confronting mankind requires building an international movement in the working class, independent of the national capitalist governments and union bureaucracies. A critical task of this movement is to oppose the accelerating drive of world capitalism towards new imperialist wars, notably targeting China.

The line-up of criminals attending the UN proceedings this week provides yet another illustration of the political degeneration of the entire capitalist order.

The first speaker today will be Brazil’s fascistic President Jair Bolsonaro, who is boasting of his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and campaigning for a coup by the Brazilian military. He is joined by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a leading figure in AUKUS and in opposing a scientific fight to eradicate COVID-19, infamous for declaring: “No more f*cking lockdowns—let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”

There will be Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a friend of Le Drian, who halted two years of revolutionary struggles by the Egyptian working class by a bloody military coup in 2013—shooting thousands of unarmed civilians in cold blood in the streets of Cairo.

US President Biden appears with blood on his hands, after US officials admitted at least 10 innocent civilians including seven children were murdered in a US drone strike in Kabul on August 29. He is at the center of the reactionary AUKUS intrigues targeting China.

The preparation of the AUKUS alliance has gone hand-in-hand with a vicious press campaign, also led by Washington, suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic is caused not by a naturally-occurring virus, but of a virus created in a Chinese lab. This slander, which has no support among credible scientific authorities, amounts to war propaganda falsely blaming the now nearly 2 million dead in North America and Europe on China.

Blame for the horrific COVID-19 death toll lies above all with the NATO powers, which opposed such scientific policies as an intolerable restriction on corporate profits. As a result, the collective wealth of the world’s billionaires has exploded by 60 percent, from $8 trillion to $13.1 trillion, while workers and youth were sent into unsafe workplaces and schools.

The degraded spectacle set to unfold at the UN General Assembly is a historic warning to the working class. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a trigger event, vastly intensifying the crisis of world capitalism and exposing the inability of the ruling class to devise any progressive, common solution to the urgent international crises of today. That task falls to the working class, fighting to build an international movement against war, for a scientifically-guided campaign to eradicate the coronavirus, and for socialism.

 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

US, Britain, Australia Announce Major Military Pact against China - World Socialist Web Site

US, Britain, Australia announce major military pact against China - World Socialist Web Site

 

In a major escalation of the US-led war drive against China, President Biden together with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new military alliance focussed on the Indo-Pacific region. While not mentioned by name, China was obviously the primary target of the new AUKUS pact.

A top US official briefing the media described the agreement as “a fundamental decision, that binds decisively Australia to the United States and Great Britain for generations.” It marks a reforging of the wartime alliance during World War II in the Pacific in which Australia was a major base of operations for both the US and Britain—at that time against Japan.

Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Joe Biden at G7 meeting in June 2021 [Source: Australian Government]

For British imperialism, the pact signifies the return of a military presence to Asia that it relinquished over fifty years ago when it withdrew its bases in South East Asia and the Persian Gulf. In April, the British navy despatched an aircraft carrier strike group for exercises in the Indian Ocean and sensitive South China Sea––its largest force since the Falklands War in the southern Atlantic in 1982.

The fault lines of a disastrous new world war are rapidly emerging as the Biden administration forges alliances in the Indo-Pacific against China which the US regards as the greatest threat to its global hegemony. Far from easing tensions with Beijing, Biden has ramped up the US confrontation with China on every front—from its hypocritical denunciations of “human rights” and the Wuhan Lab lie to trade war measures, naval provocations in the South China and East China Seas and unfounded accusations of Chinese threats against Taiwan.

The AUKUS announcement comes ahead of the first-ever, in-person leaders meeting next week of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or “Quad”—a quasi-military alliance of the US, Japan, India and Australia. It follows a virtual meeting of the leaders—also a first—convened by Biden in March that pledged allegiance to “a free, open rules-based order.” This stock phrase signifies a commitment to the post-World War II imperialist order dominated by the US in which it set the global rules.

The announcement comes in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s debacle in Afghanistan after two decades of a criminal and bloody neo-colonial occupation ended in the ignominious collapse of its puppet regime in Kabul. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was part of a broad strategic shift set out in Pentagon documents away from “the war on terror” to focus on “great-power rivalry”—chiefly against China.

The aggressive and militarist character of the new alliance is underscored by the associated decision to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines that will greatly extend the capabilities of its navy’s submarine fleet. Nuclear-powered submarines, as oppose to the diesel-powered submarines that Australia had contracted to buy from France, can operate at far greater distances and remain submerged for extended periods of time, enabling them to be deployed to the strategic South China and East China Seas.

The US has only ever shared its nuclear submarine technology with one other country—Britain—some 70 years ago. Only six countries currently have nuclear-powered submarines. Prime Minister Morrison was at pains to insist that Australia would not acquire nuclear weapons, which would be a breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nor would it establish a civilian nuclear industry.

There is, however, a logic to the decision: without a nuclear industry, Australia, which has among the largest uranium reserves in the world, would be completely dependent on the US or UK for nuclear fuel for its submarines. Once a nuclear industry is developed, fuel can also be used to build nuclear weapons—a move proposed in recent years amid rising US-China tensions by several Australian strategic analysts.

A top Biden administration official told the media that the formation of AUKUS was the “the biggest strategic step Australia has taken in generations.” The alliance and the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines is the culmination of the closer and closer integration of Australia into the US war plans against China that began with the Obama administration and accelerated under Trump.

President Obama chose to announce his “pivot to Asia,” which set course for an all-embracing conflict with China, in a speech to the Australian parliament in November 2011. The visit to Australia followed the ousting of Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in an inner-party coup by “protected sources” of the US embassy in Canberra. Rudd’s “crime” was not that he opposed the US-Australian alliance but that he advocated US compromise with China as Obama was preparing for confrontation.

Rudd’s replacement Julia Gillard signed an agreement with Obama to open US military bases to US Marines, warships and warplanes. The Australian foreign minister and defence minister are currently in Washington for talks with their American counterparts in the annual AUSMIN talks which are expected to outline an even closer integration of the Australian armed forces and military bases with the US war machine.

The negotiations between the US, Britain and Australia to conclude the AUKUS alliance have been underway behind closed doors for months according to unnamed sources. The complete secrecy is not only aimed at keeping China in the dark, but reflects the fear in ruling circles in Washington, London and Canberra that the widespread, but latent, anti-war sentiment among workers and youth will erupt.

The latest announcement makes clear that the US imperialism’s preparations for war against China are well advanced. If it cannot subordinate Beijing to US interests by other means, the American ruling class will not hesitate to go to war to prevent being eclipsed by China.

The only means for halting this catastrophic drive towards conflict between nuclear-armed powers is to forge an international anti-war movement of the working class on the basis of a socialist perspective to put an end to the capitalist system and its reactionary division of the world into rival nation states.

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Alabama Teacher Calls for Teachers to Organize Independently of Unions to Demand Eradication of COVID-19 - World Socialist Web Site

Alabama teacher calls for teachers to organize independently of unions to demand eradication of COVID-19 - World Socialist Web Site

Inspiring words from front-line worker:

The WSWS conducted the following interview with a teacher from Montgomery, Alabama, where the school reopening drive has led to mass infections of students and teachers. As this semester began last month, over 4,300 cases were reported in schools throughout Alabama—a higher number than at any time during the 2020-21 school year. Last week, there were 9,200 infections reported. Even this is an undercount, with only 58 percent of districts even reporting figures.

The teacher’s name has been changed to Clare to protect her identity.

WSWS: We have described three strategies guiding world governments’ response to the pandemic: herd immunity, which says “let it rip” and allow the entire population to become infected; mitigation, which tries to negotiate with the virus by implementing half-measures that do not stop the spread of infection; and elimination/eradication, which asserts that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can and must be stopped. Scientists estimate that the virus could be eradicated in the space of a couple of months if this strategy were correctly pursued. What are your thoughts?

Clare: Eradication is what makes COVID go away. We’ve dealt with this for over a year, we can deal with 2–3 months of shutdown. Vaccines alone won’t eradicate it. You have to isolate the disease itself or it will continue to mutate. We need to make sure support is there for people who need it and not bail out the rich people. If we shut down, we would have less nurses and doctors walking out, less teachers walking out.

Multiple countries have been successful with elimination. We know what works.

The mitigation strategy is very wishy-washy. It’s profitable for them. It’s not what’s in the best interest of the whole people and it’s driven by greed.

WSWS: What do you think about the role of the Biden administration in forcing the schools to reopen and the current surge of the pandemic?

Clare: The reopening of schools is the biggest source of transmission for this second wave. This is the [Biden] administration’s fault, the government’s. Government wants the big money. They want to appease the lobbyists and the businesses. The politicians do the dance and screw your children. Biden lied to that little girl [during a televised town hall earlier this year] and said everything’s going to be okay.

They already lied by saying get this many people vaccinated and it’ll go away. They did the exact opposite of what science said when they reopened everything and told everybody you are vaccinated, so take your mask off because it’s safe.

They were supposed to get the infrastructure together, get the schools fixed, etc. Instead, they said, “No, we need everyone in schools and we won’t give parents an option.” You can’t point the finger at the unvaccinated when it’s the lack of following CDC guidelines. There’s not just one rule but a set of rules, and you have to follow all of them. They said, “Vaccinate and send them back to school” but most kids can’t be vaccinated!

I told [Alabama Governor] Kay Ivey—it’s not the unvaccinated people’s fault, it’s your fault. You said take your masks off, go to school with no virtual option. I know people who work virtually but their kids had to go to school. That’s how they got the virus. This wave is from reopening schools.

The unions didn’t just not help us, they stuck their foot out to trip us and knocked us to the ground. Once the union told us they couldn’t really help us because they had people on “both sides,” it was clear. The union isn’t going to help us. They aren’t going to go against the school board, because the board allows them to collect our dues. They want our money. They’re not making sure we are safe. Eight teachers died last year in Montgomery, at least, and the AEA [Alabama Education Association] didn’t say squat.

They are a big business under the guise of a union. They told us, don’t come to us in a group, but individually. Divide and conquer. The whole point of a union is to work together. They did nothing with our grievances, anyway. Instead, they put us in a Petri dish, in the schools.

WSWS: What can you say about the role of AFT President Randi Weingarten and her $5 million “Back to School for All” tour across the United States? As part of the campaign, the union is directing locals to go door-to-door to round up students.

Clare: It is not her job to round students up and tell them they have to go in person. A union is supposed to be about uniting teachers, not rounding up students. Her job is to protect teachers and she’s not doing that. Teachers are dying and she’s not even mentioning it.

Last year there was no union-led fight on behalf of teachers anywhere in the US.

WSWS: Why do you support the building of independent rank-and-file committees of all workers to oppose these policies?

Clare: The rank-and-file committees need to come together because the unions aren’t doing it. The only real representation you have as a worker is your rank-and-file committee.

The working class needs to not be threatened and intimidated by what looks like an impossible task of fighting against big business. When fighting for life, no fight is too big.

We need to band together. If we stop working, they can’t do anything. We have to understand our power. Parents, teachers and workers in all areas are running the foundation of this country. We must work together to fight against corporate structure that puts our life at risk.

I spoke to a waiter the other day. He was making $2.45 an hour, the same wage I did 30 years ago! How does a wage not go up over that period? We used to be able to keep our tips, now they are even sharing those. Who can live off that? And they’re getting exposed to COVID at work.

We read about this in school, like The Jungle [Upton Sinclair’s muckraking 1906 novel on the Chicago meat-packing industry]. We read about it like it’s in the past, but these past couple of years have shown that it’s very much alive and well. It’s not just corruption but a system of greed that is so pervasive in our government that children’s lives are expendable.

It was shown in the beginning of the pandemic that they considered the elderly expendable. People with preexisting conditions, they let them die. They keep saying, “Kids need to be in schools” but it’s been proven through wars and past crises that children can overcome learning loss. They cannot overcome life loss.

I felt so bad last year to see how insignificant we teachers were. No matter how much education you have, how many degrees you have, you were treated like trash just for voicing that you wanted to be safe. Teachers resigned or retired, or kept quiet. Now that they shut the teachers up, they are trying to shut the parents up by saying, “You have to pay bills.”

WSWS: Which is precisely why the ruling class allowed the eviction moratorium and the federal unemployment assistance to expire as schools were reopening.

Clare: Yes. They need to reinstate the eviction pause. Allow people to live. It’s not that hard to do. Eradication makes COVID go away. Shut down for 2–3 months. We shouldn’t still be losing family members. I know three people who died last month. The working class has to stop accepting little crumbs and come together to fight. That’s the only way we are all protected.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

WSWS IN 2001: The Political Roots of the Terror Attack on New York and Washington

The political roots of the terror attack on New York and Washington - World Socialist Web Site

The World Socialist Web Site unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Those responsible for the hijacking of four commercial passenger aircraft and their conversion into flying bombs are guilty of mass murder. Nothing of a socially progressive character will be achieved on the basis of such an indiscriminate and callous destruction of human life.

These acts of homicidal terrorism manifest a toxic combination of demoralized pessimism, religious and ultra-nationalist obscurantism, and, it must be added, political opportunism of the vilest character. Terrorist organizations—notwithstanding their anti-American rhetoric—base their tactics on the illusion that random acts of horrific violence will compel the US ruling class to shift its policies. Thus, in the final analysis, they hope to make a deal with Washington.

However it seeks to justify itself, the terrorist method is fundamentally reactionary. Far from dealing a powerful blow against imperialist militarism, terrorism plays into the hands of those elements within the US establishment who seize on such events to justify and legitimize the resort to war in pursuit of the geopolitical and economic interests of the ruling elite. The murder of innocent civilians enrages, disorients and confuses the public. It undermines the struggle for the international unity of the working class, and counteracts all efforts to educate the American people on the history and politics that form the background to contemporary events in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, our condemnation of Tuesday’s terrorist outrages does not in the slightest imply any lessening of our principled and irreconcilable opposition to the policies of the US government. Anyone who wishes to understand the why and wherefore of yesterday’s events must study the historical and political record of the US in the Middle East, especially over the last thirty years. The unrelenting efforts of American imperialism to secure its domination over the oil resources of the region, which has entailed, among other things, unstinting support for the Israeli state’s oppression of the Palestinian people, has placed the United States in violent opposition to the legitimate and irrepressible democratic, national and social aspirations of the Arab masses.

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s events, politicians, editorialists and media pundits have declared over and over that Americans must recognize that the destruction of the World Trade Center means the United States is at war and must act accordingly. But the fact of the matter is that the US government has been engaged in direct warfare in the Middle East, in one form or another, for the better part of two decades.

Putting aside the massive material aid that it provides for Israeli military operations, the United States has been bombing one or another Middle Eastern country almost continuously since 1983. US bombers and/or battleships have attacked Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan. Without actually declaring war, the United States has conducted military operations against Iraq for nearly eleven years. The ongoing daily bombings of Iraq are barely mentioned in the American media, which has made no attempt to ascertain the total number of Iraqis killed by US bombs since 1991.

Given this bloody record, why should anyone be surprised that those who have been targeted by the United States have sought to strike back?

The same media that is now screaming for blood has routinely applauded the use of violence against whatever country or people are deemed to be obstacles to US interests. Let us recall the words of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who had this to say to the Serbian people during the US bombing campaign in 1999: “It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted. . . . [W]e will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.”[1]

The foreign policy of the US is a mixture of cynicism, brutality and irresponsibility. Washington has pursued a course that has inflamed the hatred of large sections of the world’s population, creating an environment in which recruits can be found for bloody terrorist operations. In rare moments of candor, foreign policy specialists have acknowledged that the actions of the United States provoke hatred and the desire for retribution. During the Balkan War, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger stated: “We’ve presented to the rest of the world a vision of the bully on the block who pushes a button, people out there die, we don’t pay anything except the cost of a missile  …  that’s going to haunt us in terms of trying to deal with the rest of the world in the years ahead.”

This insight has not prevented the same Eagleburger from declaring Tuesday night that the United States should respond to the destruction of the World Trade Center by dropping bombs immediately on any country that might have been involved.

George W. Bush’s address to the nation Tuesday evening epitomized the arrogance and blindness of the American ruling class. Far from America being “the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world,” the US is seen by tens of millions as the main enemy of their human and democratic rights, and the main source of their oppression. The American ruling elite, in its insolence and cynicism, acts as if it can carry out its violent enterprises around the world without creating the political conditions for violent acts of retribution.

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks, US authorities and the media are once again declaring that Osama bin Laden is responsible. This is possible, although, as always, they present no evidence to back up their claim.

But the charge that bin Laden is the culprit raises a host of troubling questions. Given the fact that the US has declared this individual to be the world’s most deadly terrorist, whose every move is tracked with the aid of the most technologically sophisticated and massive intelligence apparatus, how could bin Laden organize such an elaborate attack without being detected? An attack, moreover, against the same New York skyscraper that was hit in 1993?

The devastating success of his assault would indicate that, from the standpoint of the American government, the crusade against terrorism has been far more a campaign of propaganda to justify US military violence around the world than a conscientious effort to protect the American people.

Moreover, both bin Laden and the Taliban mullahs, whom the US accuses of harboring him, were financed and armed by the Reagan-Bush administration to fight pro-Soviet regimes in Afghanistan in the 1980s. If they are involved in Tuesday’s operations, then the American CIA and political establishment are guilty of having nurtured the very forces that carried out the bloodiest attack on American civilians in US history.

The escalation of US militarism abroad will inevitably be accompanied by intensified attacks on democratic rights at home. The first victims of the war fever being whipped up are Arab-Americans, who are already being subjected to death threats and other forms of harassment as a result of the media hysteria.

The calls from both Republican and Democratic politicians for a declaration of war foreshadow a more general crackdown on opponents of American foreign policy. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded American troops in the 1991 invasion of Iraq, spoke for much of the political and military elite when he declared on television that the war on alleged terrorist supporters should be conducted inside as well as outside the borders of the US.

It is the policies pursued by the United States, driven by the strategic and financial interests of the ruling elite, which laid the foundations for the nightmare that unfolded on Tuesday. The actions now being contemplated by the Bush administration—indicated by the president’s threat to make “no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”—will only set the stage for further catastrophes.

Notes:

[1] Thomas L. Friedman, “Stop the Music,” New York Times, April 23, 1999.